Read Uptown thief Online

Authors: Aya De León

Uptown thief (page 6)

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Chapter 11The Monday after the three girls did the call, Thug Woofer's manager began calling Marisol. “My guy wants to hire Candi Jones again,” his voice-mail message said.Marisol called back from a cab en route to a breakfast meeting. “Your guys were satisfied with the service?”“Sure. Woof wants to see Candi Jones again.”“She's not available, but I've got other black girls, equally charming. How about Janice Jackson? She's nasty.”“Not available?” he asked. “I didn't even say when.”“She doesn't want to work with Woof,” Marisol said, stepping out of the taxi, paying the driver, and getting a receipt.“Why not?”“You're Thug Woofer's manager. You know why.” Marisol stepped into a café. She grabbed a cheese croissant and stood in line. “He acted like a dick. That bridge is burned.”“But can't you—”“Look,” Marisol said. “It's the moment onLove Connectionwhen the girl says no, she doesn't want another date. Suck it up and move on. Doesn't Woof have a ‘pussy line around the block'? Hang on—” She turned to the woman behind the counter. “Mocha, please. Sorry, I'm back.”“What if I double the price?” the manager asked.“I told you at the beginning, the girls have the final say. I got Janice Jackson. I got Sugar Golden. He'd like these other girls, and they might even like him.”“He's not gonna like this,” he said.“I'm glad our service was otherwise satisfactory,” Marisol said. “Your office will get the donation receipt for tax season. Pleasure doing business with you.”* * *That night, she met with her team in the office. “Sorry this is so late,” she said. “Things have been crazy since the fund-raiser.”She slung the purse onto the desk and unloaded the bricks of cash. “From the tech guy heist two weeks ago,” Marisol said. “I haven't counted it.”“Did he really do the wife with you right there in the vent?” Jody asked.Marisol grimaced. “Don't remind me.” She distributed the bills to the team to count and recount.Someone knocked loudly on the door. Marisol leaped up, startled. Tyesha jolted and knocked a tall stack of cash off the desk. The loose bills fluttered down.“Pick those up!” Marisol hissed, striding across the office.“Sorry,” Tyesha whispered.“Yes?” Marisol asked through the door.“Marisol? . . . Hey, it's Raul.”“What's up?”“Front desk sent me. You have a package.”Marisol glanced at her team picking up bills strewn across the carpet.“Of course,” Marisol said. “Thanks for bringing it.” She unlocked the bolt and slid out of the barely open door.Raul held a huge box in both arms. “Lemme drop it in your office.”“I can get it,” Marisol said.“It's really heavy,” he said. “I know you're strong, but I had to rest halfway up the stairs with this.”“Sorry, you can't come in right now,” Marisol said, peeking back into the office to see Kim squeezing under the desk to get several hundred-dollar bills. “I'm meeting with my outreach team, and we have open client files. Patient confidentiality. It would be—” She glanced back to see Tyesha stuffing bills into a drawer. “It would be illegal.”“Can I just leave it here?” he asked.Marisol looked at the sender. “No,” she said. “It's got syringes and bottles of narcan. That's why security sent it up. It's locked in my office by special protocol.”“Okay,” Raul said. “I hope you've been working out.”She heaved the package into her arms. Although she clenched every muscle, it knocked her backward.Raul caught her. “Cuidado,” he said and stood behind her to steady her grip.She felt his warm shoulder against the back of her neck and his pectoral muscle against her shoulder blade. Her pulse picked up. She wanted to tell him to back up, that she had the package, but she was unsteady.“Nice upper body strength,” he said in her ear. His breath tickled the hairs at the nape of her neck. “Lemme help you balance.” He pressed up against her, his crotch at the base of her spine. Her body fit so easily with his, and it was an identical temperature to her own. She was simultaneously unaware of it and intensely, chemically aware.Jody stepped out of the office. “Need a hand?”“Yes,” Marisol gasped.Jody lifted the box from Raul's arm and swung the office door open with her foot.Tyesha and Kim sat at the desk covered with nothing but files. Marisol sighed with relief.“I'll let you get back to your meeting,” Raul murmured in her ear.Marisol nearly jumped. She hadn't realized that he was still behind her. “Yes—I—” she stammered. “Thanks again.”He turned and walked down the stairs, and the women watched his wide shoulders, narrow hips, and firm ass.“He can deliver his package to me anytime,” Tyesha said. “If it wasn't against the rules to date other staff, I would definitely tap that.”“Uh-uh,” Jody said. “He's Marisol's.”“No, he isn't,” Marisol said.“Jody came out of the office and you were all squeezed up with him,” Kim said.“I was not squeezed up with him,” Marisol said. “I just overbalanced.”“Overbalancing,” Tyesha said. “Is that what the kids are calling it these days?”“Don't talk shit to me right now,” Marisol said. “If you hadn't practically made it rain in front of an ex-cop, I wouldn't have been in that position.”“What position is that?” Kim asked.“Shut up and count this damn money,” Marisol said.Soon there were no sounds but the shuffle and flip of treasury bills and the murmured love songs of women counting.* * *The next morning, Thug Woofer came to see Marisol. Before inviting him in, she put on her glasses, pulled her long hair back into a bun, and buttoned an additional button on her blouse.“I want Candi,” he said. “Candi Jones.”For a moment, she wanted to laugh. He was such a kid in those oversized, glittering designer clothes, demanding sweets.“I'm sorry,” Marisol said. “She's not available.”“This some bullshit. How you gonna run a business, but won't let me choose my merchandise?”“The girls aren't merchandise. They're service workers.”“How much I gotta pay to change her mind?”“You're not gonna change her mind.”“You tell her to name her price,” he said. “And then call me.”He dropped a card on her desk. It readTWin raised silver letters and had a cell phone number. He hiked up his jeans and strode out the door.She recycled the card.* * *At the end of the day, Marisol and Serena had just finished a site visit from the NYC Board of Elections. Marisol had been trying for years to set the clinic up as a polling place. The visit had gone well, and she and Serena were walking back through the lobby toward the stairwell.Marisol saw Raul in her peripheral vision. Nalissa had a hand on his arm and her head tossed back. Her unnaturally red curls bounced with her laughter.Marisol willed herself to focus on what Serena was saying about their latest grant, as the clinic's front door opened and a young transgender woman entered.“Clara!” Serena ran to her. Clara wore a pair of flip-flops and a Dora the Explorer blanket around her full breasts and narrow-hipped body. She wore blond hair extensions down to her butt. Her long, bare legs were smooth and hairless, and her toes were polished pink. Her face was in full makeup, and there were tear streaks down her cheeks.“You okay, miss?” Raul asked, extracting himself from Nalissa.“Mytíaput me out for bringing dates to the apartment,” Clara said to Serena. “Bitch threw me out in the snow.”“Oh honey—” Serena began.“She came home early,” Clara said, shivering. “And we was going at it on the couch. I'm naked under this shit.”Marisol put her blazer on Clara, pulling her close to warm her.“Such a fucking hypocrite,” Clara said. “How'd she think we was paying therenta?”“That jacket isn't thick enough,” Raul said, stepping closer. He pulled off his hoodie. As he lifted up the sweatshirt, it tugged up his undershirt, showing off the muscles in his abdomen.Marisol could hear Nalissa's audible intake of breath.“Here you go, miss,” Raul said to Clara.“Ooh, chivalry is alive,” Clara said. “Thanks for the flash,papi. That warmed me up even more.” She ran her hand along Raul's six-pack.Raul blushed and yanked down the bottom of his white, ribbed undershirt.Marisol felt light-headed. “Let me get you some hot tea,nena,” she said. “We also have emergency blankets.”In the back room, Marisol put the kettle on and crossed to the supply closet. She flipped on the light.Raul appeared in the hallway. “I had to get outta there,” he said. “I'm not used to—am I blushing?”“It was sweet to give her your sweatshirt,” Marisol said.Raul crossed the hallway. The lights were dim, a cost-saving measure, as the hall was illuminated by windows during the day.“That girl . . . ?” Raul fumbled.“. . . that young woman is transgender,” Marisol said.Raul nodded. “It's good for me working here. Learning new things.”Marisol walked into the alcove where they kept emergency equipment, and Raul followed.The overhead bulb flashed, then burned out.“You've got to be kidding me,” Marisol mumbled.“I'll use my phone,” Raul said.“Good idea.” Marisol pulled out hers, too, and they searched for the blankets by the glow of the screens.The emergency corner of the supply closet was small, and she could feel his bicep touching her shoulder, exposed by the sleeveless silk blouse.“Here it is,” Raul said.Marisol turned as he leaned over to hand her something. Their noses collided, and her cheek brushed the light stubble on his jaw.She jerked back, dropping her phone. It fell facedown, obscuring the light.“Sorry,” Raul said.“Not your fault,” she said as they looked for the phone. They crawled around, bumping into each other. The moving on all fours, the darkness, the exposed skin. She wanted to jump on him and rip off their clothes so she could press against that smooth chest and those hard abs. She wanted to top him, take him, on a pile of torn silk and white cotton.“Is that it over there?” Raul asked.Marisol blinked. The phone had fallen onto some paper napkins on a bottom shelf.“Got it.” She scooped it up.“Why don't you take the blanket back to Clara?” she said. “I just found a replacement light bulb.”“I can help screw it in,” Raul said. “Isn't it a little high for you?”“Then I'll go.” She handed him the bulb and took the blanket. “Gracias.”She hurried down the hallway to the loud whistling of the teakettle.* * *Marisol locked her office door. How was she supposed to function with Raul under the same roof all day?She had no idea what to do with these feelings. She couldn't get away from him. She couldn't fuck him. She couldn't concentrate.She flipped through the mail on her desk. Several tax information statements sobered her. Nothing sexy about the IRS.She opened the statements and checked them against her records. When she plugged the figures into the tax software, the clinic came out owing $23,000.What? She rechecked her math. April would bring a $23,000 tax bill on top of the mortgage and other monthly expenses? How could she pay that?When Marisol had opened the escort service, she swore to Eva, on her mother's grave, that she would find a way to launder the money and pay taxes.It was simple to declare escort payments as donations. The clients got the services, plus a tax write-off. She paid the escorts as consultants. And there was a clear money trail from the “donor” to the clinic. She kept a small client list of wealthy men who were very discreet—Thug Woofer was the exception. According to the contract, the girls were entertainers, and the sex was off the books. No client was gonna blow the scheme by telling his accountant: “Don't deduct that, it was for hookers.” They took the write-off, and they kept their mouths shut.The tough part was accounting for the heist money, because the funds had no legitimate origin. She disguised some of it as cash payments for clinic services, but since they served mostly low-income clients, a sudden, massive amount of cash income would be a red flag. She deposited a few hundred dollars of stolen cash every week along with the crumpled one- and five-dollar bills they got in the donation buckets. But she needed to launder tens of thousands to keep up with expenses—and now there was this tax bill.What she needed was a big heist. A multimillion-dollar payoff that she could keep in an offshore account. So instead of scrambling all day for cash to keep the clinic doors open, she could turn over daily management to Tyesha. Then she could focus on setting up the laundering operation that would make it all legit.
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